Midpriced Binoculars Round Up
by Michael and Diane Porter
We evaluated 56 mid-priced binoculars for Bird Watcher's Digest in the summer of 2007.
Here are our findings on the optical quality of the binoculars in the study.
What we looked for
We compared the binoculars for resolution, brightness, contrast, color fidelity, detail in shadowed areas, and freedom from chromatic aberration. Each tester rated the binoculars' optical quality on a scale of 5 (best score among our mid-priced binoculars) to 1 (worst).
A word of caution on interpreting the optical quality numbers. The combined scores are rated to the tenth of a point, but the spread is tight, with most of the binoculars scoring within one point of each other. The scores are not absolutes. Every score on the chart is composed of the ratings of multiple testers, each of whom doubtless brought his or her own preferences and particularities to the test.
This doesn't mean subjective comparisons are meaningless. But there is a tendency, when seeing something reduced to a number such as 4.3, to put undue credence in its specificity.
Among the standouts for optical quality were the Leica Ultravid Compacts, amazingly sharp, clear binoculars. (See review of Leica Ultravid Compacts.) Virtually all of our testers loved these tiny binoculars.
The full-sized Vortex Razor 8x42 shared the highest optical score with the Leica Ultravid Compacts. See the review of the Razor among the Binoculars of Particular Note section.
The next section is about the ergonomic characteristics that we studied.
OPTICAL QUALITY (this page)
This article appears as part of the Midpriced Binoculars Round Up in the November, 2007, issue of Bird Watcher's Digest.
Text and photos copyright 2007 by Michael and Diane Porter.